It seems that every year, we have a discussion about issues in the stands. Usually it circles around the door-opening procedures and saving seats, but I think there are related issues that could be addressed by segmenting different groups. What I propose is breaking the audience into four groups.
Scouts and Video
This section of the stands would be at a premium viewing location. This section could be higher up (further away). Each team would be allowed only 8 members at a time in this section, designated by wristband or button, that could be removed and switched to a different member. This keeps all the equipment (laptops, cameras, etc) in one area of the stands, for easier distribution of power in the stands.
Current Match Participants
This is a premium “front row center” viewing location where spectators can stay for one match only. The Los Angeles regional at Long Beach did a great job with this last year. They had a whole separate section for folks who wanted to view only the current match. The section was completely cleared out after every match. Entrance on one side, exit on the other, and you were not allowed to stay. This gave every team a good and fair opportunity to see their robot play from a good view point up close. There does not need to be any registration for this section, but it should work on the honor system that only team members whose robots are up next on the field should enter this section.
Team cheering and spectating
This would be open seating, as it is currently.
The general public feels very out of place at a FIRST event. There’s loud music, screaming kids, and nowhere to sit. I think a separate section for the general public would help with this. If I didn’t know about FIRST, and I walked in to see what it was all about, and I wanted to watch some matches, didn’t find anywhere to sit that wasn’t in the middle of team XXXX saving all their seats, I’d probably leave. Let’s give these folks a place to sit that’s not in the middle of a bunch of screaming teenagers. It probably would not have to be a large section.
I think it’s really highly dependent of the venue, if it offers enough room.
The SD Regional was held at Valley View Casino Center (Sports Arena), and was commodious enough for just about what you described.
While power was still a problem, everything else was pretty much how you described it.
Teams mostly decided to sit in the center, obviously. General public could sit up in the higher seats if they wanted a view of the action.
Now think of a venue that would be much smaller than the San Diego Sports Arena.
Pits already take up half of your venue space. Then think about team members and supporting parents/mentors/sponsors that are there and want to view the action. If the venue is a high school gymnasium, you won’t have much luck in that.
San Diego is lucky to have a large venue for FRC, but other regionals are not as lucky, so sometimes it cannot be possible to provide luxuries like voluminous and specified seating.
If the venue is large enough, it ends up being played out like this without guidance.
If the venue is small, there isn’t enough space to plan it out like this anyways.
I agree with Austin above. If you’ve been to some of the district events, you’ll know that the bleachers in a high school gym would not allow for this type of segmentation.
However, I believe I heard at the MAR info session at Duel on the Delaware this past fall that they are planning on partially segmenting the MAR Championships this year at Lehigh University. If I remember correctly, they will be using transferable bracelets (or something of the sort) to monitor a scouting-only sections of the stands. They may have also mentioned having a separate space for just the teams in that match, but I don’t remember exactly. If that were to happen though, I believe the general public and the rest of the teams would be mixed in the same area.
But, with this comes the fact that more volunteers would be needed to ensure that everyone is in their correct spots.
I’m for the standing-only spectator zone where you can watch a match or two from next to the pipe-and-drape around the field, but only if there are no rules except for “don’t camp out, only watch a 2-3 matches then let someone else watch” based upon an honor system.
I’m for reserving a section of the stands for the general public, particularly if it is near ground level close to the field (for grandparents and the like).
I’m not for a dedicated scouting section if it requires all kinds of wristbands or buttons or checking in and checking out and more rules and regulations. Frankly, I don’t think the benefits outweigh the cumbersome rules and regulations this would impose on teams and volunteers. Some teams might use nine students, Other teams might have a half dozen students taking quantitative data and another half dozen taking qualitative. Some smaller teams might have one person scouting who doesn’t want to sit alone. Other teams might not use their section do they now barter/give away their seats to other teams?
Honestly the best way to solve the problem without annoying rules is to simply provide more seating.
At the Queen City Regional, we have segmented a scouting section in the CINTAS center for scouting teams. Each team will be allotted seats. It is the upper level, front and center of the field.
Our issue is that teams are setting up scouting “bunkers” in wheelchair accessible seating areas and using power from sources at the venue which are not supposed to be used - access to these sources should be available to every team, not just a few. They also create trip hazards with power cables, even if they are taped down.
We have designated “charging stations” available to all teams on the main concourse area of the venue.